States With Glitchy Obamacare Marketplaces Want An Enrollment Extension

CREDIT: AP Photo/Jon Elswick

Several states that are running their own Affordable Care Act marketplaces are expected to ask the Obama administration for permission to extend the March 31 deadline for signing up for health plans due to technical woes that have prevented many consumers from enrolling in coverage, the Washington Post’s Jason Millman reports.

More than a dozen states are running their own Obamacare marketplaces — but not all of them have been doing a particularly good job of it. For instance, Maryland’s health exchange is so dysfunctional that that the federal Health and Human Services Inspector General is launching an investigation into what went wrong with the marketplace.

Oregon, New Mexico, and Nevada — which has cut its enrollment expectations in half because of the software glitches in the marketplace — are among the states expected to consider legislation asking the Obama administration for as much as a month-long enrollment extension. What’s less clear is whether or not the White House will acquiesce. On a conference call with reporters earlier this week, administration officials said they did not believe HHS has the legal authority to unilaterally extend the March 31 deadline.

On Wednesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said this month’s deadline will not be postponed. “No, sir,” Sebelius said at a hearing of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee when she was asked about the issue.

The administration has, however, issued rules to address consumers who are locked out of signing up for health plans in states that don’t have smoothly functioning exchanges. Americans in these states will be able to access federal subsidies to help them pay for insurance that they buy directly from insurers off of the marketplaces.